6 YouTube Tips and Tricks for Tourism and Destination Marketing

How A Few Simple Steps Can Help You Capitalize On Your DMO’s Video Efforts

“In any given month, over 100 million of YouTube’s unique visitors are travelers.”- Google/Ipsos MediaCT, “The 2015 Traveler’s Road to Decision”

Proving the relationship between YouTube subscriptions/views/engagement and the number of visitors to your destination or attraction has long been a problem. The “I-want-to-get-away-moments” that define the traveler’s consumer behavior mean that it’s difficult to know what content has influenced the decision-making process. Attributing their decision to a set of videos can be difficult. But with YouTube analytics, CRMs, and Marketing Software all stepping up their game every year, it has become a given that traveler behavior is heavily impacted by YouTube. In fact, it’s been estimated that two-thirds of travelers watch videos as a part of the travel planning process. Knowing this, we can confidently assert that Destination Marketers should make a point of having a definitive presence on the world’s second largest search engine (and third most-visited website).

The development of YouTube as a marketing medium has trailed general website development as long as we can remember. While just about every destination or attraction marketer will tell you that they understand that both a strong website presence and a strong YouTube presence are an integral part of campaign success, it’s not uncommon for us to find that they’ve prioritized optimizing the former, but not the latter.

It is in that vein that we’ve created this handy guide for destination marketers to use in making sure that that they’re operating their YouTube page in as efficient a manner as possible.

Note: This blog post will be operating under the assumption that your organization has taken steps to develop video content for YouTube. If your DMO or attraction hasn’t started to develop this content, don’t worry! We’ll be coming out with that blog soon! In the meantime, you can get handy tips and tricks for starting your first video campaign on our Zesty Marketing Podcast, or by subscribing to our newsletter.

1. Update Your Welcome Module

We know, we know – for some of our more advanced YouTube users, this one’s low-hanging fruit. But there are several DMOs out there who are doing a GREAT job of creating regularly-produced, relevant content, and haven’t updated their channel trailer in two years.

And the great news is that, given our industry, you probably don’t need to create a unique channel trailer video because a destination overview video is pretty standard fare, and probably does the job. You probably already have a 30-second ad that is fitting for this use (assuming the last few seconds are well-suited for an end card – we’ll talk about these later).

Your welcome module is your number one tool for increasing the number of subscribers, so make sure your message is up-to-date, but also customized for your ask. Do you want them to take a look at a recently created playlist? Should they be aware of an upcoming event? Use this space to get that message across, and update it often. You wouldn’t want to let your website’s homepage languish for 6 months, right? Why treat your Welcome Module any differently?

Your channel description is a great place to put your destination’s elevator pitch, and then provide the viewer with access to more localized DMOs, interest-specific content pillars, etc.

Speaking of more localized – use this time to make sure you’ve listed the next layer of DMO (county DMOs if you’re part of a state organization, city DMOs if you’re part of a county organization, etc.) to your featured channels. There’s a very good chance that your viewer will appreciate the recommendation, especially if they’re further along in the “I-want-to-get-away” part of the funnel. And that’s good for everyone, right?

2. Optimize Your Video for YouTube SEO

Your website optimization and your YouTube page optimization will forever go hand-in-hand, and with this in mind, both outlets should take cues from your keyword strategy in deciding what content to make and how to optimize it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of not optimizing your content, and assuming that the real views will happen on other promotional outlets (social media, ad buys, etc.).

The reality is, once you’ve committed to regularly creating juicy content for your YouTube channel, optimization could help your videos to get hundreds or thousands of more views per-video – with minimal effort. And thanks to YouTube’s analytics, should you decide you’d like to earn some extra credit, you can revisit old posts and measure how incremental changes effect other aspects of your YouTube page.  This simple step could expand a video’s lifespan by years in certain cases.

Of particular importance to those of us in tourism are the following areas:

  1. Closed Captioning – international audiences are undoubtedly an important part of your marketing efforts, so making your videos unavailable to those who don’t speak your language wouldn’t make much sense. Tools like closed captions can not only help those who are less comfortable with the language you’re making content in, but also allows those who are hard-of-hearing to share in the fun
  2. Titles and Descriptions – not only should these be optimized much in the same way you’d optimize content on your website, but they can also be translated – future expanding your global reach
  3. Keyword Tags – these are a must-have to your video, but make sure that you’re not being overly-generous. The keyword tags should be accurate representations of the content in your video or you might find that adding keywords does more harm than good to your video’s long-term health. A full guide to implementing keyword tags can be found here.

3. Use Cards to Increase Visitor Guide Downloads/Views

Cards are a great way to draw YouTube traffic to a landing page you’ve designed on your website. If “visitor guide downloads” is an important metric for you, strategically placed cards might be the key to getting your next raise.

Cards are pop-up banners on your video that can draw viewers to places other than YouTube (in addition to YouTube, of course). Once they’ve clicked on this card, site visitors can progress through the funnel your video marketing partner has already helped you to identify, or immediately download a visitor’s guide. What’s more, cards can be updated on a regular basis so they stay timely and relevant, and help add ROI to your video investment.

4. Create Playlists (Especially By Interest/Visitor Types)

If you’ve got the content to support it (which, if you’re still reading this article, is certainly the case), organizing your videos into playlists is a must. Short of converting your traffic to a website landing page, visitor guide, or other commitment to visit, this should be the number one goal of your YouTube page.

Playlists allow visitors to have a lean-back experience. Whereas most of your videos will naturally lead visitors out of your YouTube channel to other (related) videos, a playlist will expose them to just the videos you want them to see until they decide to take an actionable step to the contrary. Which, if your videos are curated well, could be a while.

These are the four primary methods we recommend for organizing your playlists. Ideally you’d be able to utilize a combination of all of the following, but you may see that one is superior for your page given the videos you have in your arsenal:

  1. By Theme – think hashtags here. If your video was created as a part of a series, they’re more than likely organized in this manner. This is the most common method of playlist organization, and you can find plenty of examples of its use in tourism.
  2. By Interest Group – in addition to other methods of video organization, New Zealand Tourism has broken out their videos into several categories that obviously correlate to visitor’s they’re used to seeing. Categories include Sports, Water Activities, Wine & Dine Locations, Skiing, and LOTR Fandom. This is our favorite method, as it allows you to rope your YouTube account into other aspects of your marketing campaign that may be becoming more and more personalized
  3. By Region – there will more than likely be a corresponding page on your website where an embedded playlist like this would be relevant.
  4. By Language – if you’re developing a narrow scope of content, but translating into several languages, this method will be your go-to. It’s not our favorite, but it may be the most necessary.

5. Think Like an Influencer (and Create Regular Content)

If you don’t have the ability to regularly generate video content, this rule will be a little less relevant. But if your DMO has prioritized video in your marketing arsenal, consider curating your content with a consistent theme (or set of themes), rather than posting on a wide variety of topics. This gives your audience a reason to come back regularly, and, using the right end screens, you can funnel those visitors to the right video playlist.

One of our favorite examples of this is Park City Utah’s First Timer series. We got the chance to speak with their Director of Digital Content and Engagement Sarah Myers in a recent podcast, but the long and short of it is that by creating a series of regularly produced videos on topics of interest to travelers, they were able to get some incredible engagement.

Visit California does a great take on this in their video series “Jonny Moseley’s Wildest Dreams.” In it, former Olympian Jonny Moseley visits a variety of active destinations within the state, and the beautiful cinematography and interactions help to take the story from there. As of the time this article was written, their video “SLACK!” (referencing the slacklining that takes place in the video) had garnered over 1.5 million views.

6. Utilize End Screens

Even though they were introduced back in 2016, the art of the end screen has yet to catch on in our industry. As the above screenshot illustrates, end screens are small video or image thumbnails that allow a visitor to “choose their own adventure” – often leading viewers to full playlists or individual videos. In addition, it allows you to remind your viewer to subscribe to your content, or activate the notification feature via a call-out.

In Summary

Even if you don’t have a tremendous amount of video footage to pull from, following these simple steps will have an amazing impact on the appearance of your YouTube channel. Most importantly though, you’ll benefit from what I call the “organized toolbox” effect.

By this I mean that your YouTube account should be thought of as a toolbox. If you’ve ever spent some time organizing your toolbox, I’m willing to bet that you’ve also found yourself fixing more things directly after you organized it. Your tools hadn’t disappeared previously, they were just harder to access – and therefore less-usable.

The same principle stands with your video toolbox, and I assure you that if you optimize your page, update your welcome module, and undertake any number of the aforementioned tasks in your next YouTube spring cleaning fit, you’ll find that you utilize the videos in all sorts of practical applications that you hadn’t thought of previously, whether it’s mentioning them to folks at your visitor’s center, sending links to online fans, or thinking of additional video content that will help your destination to get the attention it really deserves. There’s no downside – so get to work!

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